Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reaching the Pinnacle

I had the great pleasure of attending the Paetec - Pinnacle User Conference being held in San Francisco this week.

Pinnacle is the software division of Paetec which is a large telecommunications company in the US. Pinnacle is an application suite for telecommunication companies for expense management. They provide their suite as either Licensed (You get the source and install internally), Hosted (Installed on Pinnacle servers but you run everything) or Managed (Installed on Pinnacle servers and they run the suite for you). What is especially cool for me about Pinnacle is that they completely rearchitected their solution to use Oracle APEX. So here we have a commercial offering that is also an enterprise, software-as-a-service application suite built using Oracle APEX.

The latest Oracle Magazine's (May/June) feature is Developer Nation and includes a great write-up on Pinnacle. Well worth a read and goes to show the flexibility of Oracle APEX.

Oracle APEX + Enterprise + SaaS + Commercial suite is just gold dust for me and look to see / hear more about them in the future.

Unfortunately, I had to do a quick drop in talk and fly out again but it was certainly worth the trip. I conducted an APEX session which went well despite being in a long room with huge pillars in the middle. Got through my presentation, got to the Q&A section, the questions were flying from all-over, then the sirens went off - a "false" Fire Alarm ... One way to bring a session to a screaming halt!

While I was there though I did get to spend some quality time with the Pinnacle team and was very interested to learn and see how they have built a very interesting development framework - Special thank-you to Dennis and Erik and the rest of their team. Carl Backstrom was also in town for the Web 2.0 conference (it was very dangerous Tuesday night with Carl, Christian Shay and myself roaming the unsuspecting streets of SF) so I dragged him along to look under the covers and we got some useful ideas that may well make it into future releases.

The Pinnacle folks (staff and customers) all like to have a good time so it was a shame I had to get the red-eye out. Had to get some rest before driving to Indianapolis {3 hours each way :( }

For those of you in the Indianapolis area I am presenting at the INOUG meeting on Friday. Looking forward to going to my home state's user group meeting for the first time.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A peek over the Application Express horizon

Well as Dimitri hinted at here we {The proverbial "we": I actually mean the development team ... I just talk about things - the rest of them actually make the magic happen :) } have been hard at work since releasing 3.1. and have lots of fun plans.

Once we have some more of our ducks in a row we will update our Statement of Direction on OTN. But here is some unofficial insight into what is on the drawing board (Not to be used in any way in making purchasing decisions).

With 3.1 we introduced a lot of new code and despite the best efforts of all of you wonderful Beta testers and our tireless QA team there were a collection of minor bugs found (I personally found a few very obscure undocumented features, why because when I develop applications I often use Oracle APEX in obscure ways). Therefore, we are busy developing a 3.1.1 release to fix issues.

Our team seems to get bored easily, it would seem, because we never seem to be content working on just one thing at a time. So while the push is on to get 3.1.1 out the door we are also working on Forms Migration. We already have a page, Application Express for Forms Developers, which addresses some of the key similarities of the two tools, but now we are working on a new whitepaper which should help you migrate your existing Oracle Forms applications to Application Express.

But that's not all! We are also working on additional built-in migration project capabilities. In much the same way we have the current 'Application Migration' section where you create a Project to migrate Access across we hope to provide the ability to provide tools support for migrating Oracle Forms applications. Using Oracle Form's XML conversion program we are looking to interpret the XML produced and derive the underlying design model to be able to generate Application Express components. As with the Access migration we don't expect to achieve 100% conversion but hopefully provide a valuable first-cut.

One very important difference between migrating Oracle Forms and Access is that Oracle Forms already utilizes the Oracle Database which means some of the messiest parts of migrating the Access application is simple not applicable. Another key differentiator between migration efforts is the developers. Oracle Forms developers have the perfect skill set for developing Application Express, namely SQL & PL/SQL used within a declarative framework. They already know all about the tables, views, packages, procedures, functions, etc. that the Forms were built on top of so most Oracle Forms developers should come up to speed very quickly.

We certainly haven't forgotten about Tabular Forms. Now that we have Interactive Reports and beefed up Printing & Report Queries to take care of many of the users viewing/reporting requirements it is time to focus on how the user maintains the data, and that means improving Tabular Forms. We hope to provide better declarative functionality to make it easier to meet your business requirements when entering data without needing extensive manual coding.

In the midst of all this we are also working on numerous other whitepapers on various topics. The first I expect to see on OTN (hopefully in the near future) is the APEX on RAC whitepaper.

Looking at what's on our plate and what we plan on doing next - I'm getting tired just writing this post. I hope this unofficial update helps to shed some light on what we're planning.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

APEX @ Collaborate08 April 13-16 , Denver Colorado

Last year Carl Backstrom was holding down the fort for the Application Express team.
This year I will be there with David Gambino primarily in the Exhibition hall demonstrating APEX and SQL Developer to anyone who will listen.
So if you get a chance drop by and say hello :)

There are also a number of APEX related sessions within IOUG (unless otherwise stated):
  • APEX SIG Meeting & Roundtable - Dimitri Gielis, John Scott, Tony Jedlinski, David Peake

  • Oracle, LDAP and AD (Active Directory) Integrating the Three Together - Debra Addeo, Douglas County School District

  • Apex, LDAP and Active Directory - Debra Addeo, Douglas County School District

  • Taking APEX Applications to the Next Level - Todd Arave, Intermountain Healthcare

  • APEX Cheat Sheet - Karen Cannell, Integra Technology Consulting

  • APEX Under the Covers - Karen Cannell, Integra Technology Consulting

  • APEX Debug Options - Karen Cannell, Integra Technology Consulting

  • Effective Development with Oracle Databases - David Gambino, David Peake, Christian Shay, Kuassi Mensah, Oracle USA Inc.

  • Creating advanced charts in Oracle Application Express - Dimitri Gielis, APEX Evangelists

  • [AUOG] Integrating the Hiring Process with Oracle HMRS - Anthony Golden, Douglas County School District

  • The UPs and DOWNS of Loading External Data via APEX - Tony Jedlinski, Konoso LLC

  • Doing Web 2.0 with Application Express (APEX) - Tony Jedlinski, Konoso LLC

  • Add Style to Your APEX Apps Using .css - Tony Jedlinski, Konoso LLC

  • Extend your existing Business Solution with Application Express developed functions - Wolfgang Scherrer, infomArt GmbH

  • Using External Tables with Application Express - David Scott, Intec Billing

  • Creating Visual Impact with Custom APEX Templates and Themes - David Scott, Intec Billing

  • Housewife meets HTMLDB - Nimmi Verpati

If you want to download a spreadsheet of all these sessions simply go to our OTN APEX Events page.

Look forward to seeing many of you there!